Image: Soccer Football – World Cup – Final – France vs Croatia – Paris, France, July 15, 2018 – A giant picture of France’s Antoine Griezmann is seen on the Arc de Triomphe as France fans celebrate on the Champs-Elysees Avenue after France won the Soccer World Cup final. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
By Luke Baker
PARIS (Reuters) – Newspapers and TV stations hailed France’s World Cup victory on Monday, while clean-up crews worked against the clock to tidy up after a crazy night’s partying in Paris ahead of a victory parade down the Champs Elysees.
“Our Day of Glory Is Here” declared Le Figaro, referencing a rousing line from the Marseillaise anthem.
“History Made” announced sports daily L’Equipe, while business journal Les Echos went for the more straightforward “Champions of the World”. Photos of superstars Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, as well as shots of the team holding aloft and kissing the trophy, dominated coverage.
The victory has created a sense of national unity, with commentators playing up the fact the squad, the second-youngest in the competition, includes many with central and north African heritage, even if all but two were born in France.
When the country won its first World Cup in 1998, when Zinedine Zidane was its talisman and playmaker, the team was referred to as “Black-Blanc-Beur” (Black-White-Arab), a positive reference to its diverse ethnic make-up.
But some were keen to push that phrase to one side, seeing in it a sense of separateness, even if it was meant positively.
“We’re not in 1998,” said Mounir Mahjoubi, the secretary of state for digital affairs, whose parents emigrated from Morocco.
“We’re not still celebrating ‘Black-Blanc-Beur’, we’re celebrating brotherhood,” he said of the current team.
Videos shot by the players in the frenetic changing room after the win showed them singing, dancing and raising a toast together, while teaching President Emmanuel Macron, who could barely contain his excitement, how to do a “dab”.
For Macron, who became president last year at the age of 39, taking his political movement to victory against the odds, the football team’s success is likely to have positive repercussions after a slump in the polls.
The Paris metro system got into the celebratory mood, announcing the names of a number of stations were being briefly changed to honour the players and coach, Didier Deschamps.
So Notre-Dame des Champs station was relabelled “Notre Didier Deschamps”, and Victor Hugo was switched to “Victor Hugo Lloris” after the captain and goalkeeper.
The 2 km Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and the vast Place de la Concorde turned into a heaving sea of people on Sunday night, waving red, white and blue flags, setting off firecrackers and blowing horns until early morning.
On Monday, the after-effects were still visible. A number of smashed windows, an overturned car and graffiti scrawled here and there, including the phrase “Liberte, Egalite, Mbappe”, a reference to the national motto “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”.
On Twitter, Brazil legend Pele paid tribute to the exploits of Mbappe, France’s standout, 19-year-old superstar, saying that if the teenager kept equalling his goal-scoring records, Pele might have to strap his boots back on.
Mbappe replied to the tweet in English saying “The king will always remain the king”, quickly gaining 15,000 retweets.
The team is scheduled to arrive back in France at 1400 GMT, with crowds set to gather at Charles de Gaulle airport to receive them. A parade down the Champs Elysees is scheduled for 1530 GMT, and there will be a formal victory reception with Macron at the Elysee Palace at 1630 GMT.
And it’s not just in Paris that the nation has been taken over with football fever. From Nice and Marseille in the south to Lille in the north, Nantes in the west and scores of towns and cities in between, TV stations were full of images of red, white and blue clad fans singing in streets and squares.
(Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Alison Williams)
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